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2022 Summit for Water

Water Resources in a Changing Climate

Dates: March 22 - March 23, 2022

Click on the headings below for more details about the topic and speakers featured in 2022.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

9 - 9:10 a.m.: Summit Welcome
  • Welcoming Remarks:
    • Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., Director, SLU WATER Institute
    • Kenneth A. Olliff, D.Min., MBA, Vice President for Research and Partnerships
9:10 - 10 a.m.: Keynote Address: Hon. Sharon Weston Broome

Honorable Sharon Weston Broome
Mayor President, City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge
Immediate Past Co-Chair, Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative

10 - 10:30 a.m.: Virtual Networking Coffee Break

Grab a cup of coffee and mingle in the virtual networking lounge! 

Sponsored by Shimadzu Scientific Instruments. 

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.: Panel: Water, Climate Change and Environmental Justice

A discussion around the impacts of water resources and climate change on communities, social justice and equity.


  • Melissa Vatterott, J.D., Policy Director, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • Madeline Semanisin, Esq., Equal Justice Works Fellow, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center
  • Heather Navarro, Director, Midwest Climate Collaborative

Moderator: Sofie (Xuewei) Liang, M.Sc., Laboratory Technician, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

11:40 a.m. - 12 p.m.: COVID-19 and Freshwater Resources: An Example of How Climate Change Can Serve as a Threat Multiplier

Jason Knouft, Ph.D.
Jefferson Science Fellow, U.S. Department of State, Climate and Water Analyst
Primary Investigator, WATER Institute
Professor, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, Saint Louis University
Scientist, Large River Ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center 

The complex and often sensitive relationships between human activities and freshwater resources have been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing unique insights into how humans interact with freshwater resources, both in terms of impacts and dependencies on these systems. In particular, mandated lockdowns in several areas of the world have resulted in relatively rapid improvements in water quality due to limited human activity, suggesting the resilience of natural systems. However, the need and challenges of providing clean water in both rural and urban areas were also highlighted by restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, with limited access to sanitation likely increasing the transmission of COVID-19. In some areas, fisheries experienced increased pressures as food distribution systems and local economies were disrupted. Moreover, ongoing changes in climate, particularly related to precipitation, have also likely exacerbated water-related issues during the pandemic. The combination of COVID-19 restrictions, regional climatic variability, and varying levels of social and economic stability suggest the need for preemptive approaches to ensure water availability and access to freshwater resources in all areas of the world in the coming decades. 

1 - 2 p.m.: Panel: Artificial Intelligence at the Intersection of Water Resources and Climate Change

An exploration of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the management of water in a changing climate.


  • Elango Thevar, Founder and CEO,
  • Rebecca B. Losli, P.E., Director of Engineering, Missouri American Water Company
  • Srini Vallabhaneni, Smart Sewer Officer, KC Water
  • Jeff Shiner, P.E.,  Program Manager, Engineering, Planning & Program Planning, Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District

Moderator: Vasit Sagan, Ph.D., P.E., Director, Geospatial Institute, Saint Louis University

2:15 - 2:45 p.m.: Climate Induced Changes in Streamflow and Water Temperature Across the Atlantic Coast of the United States 

Alejandra Botero Acosta, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Scientist, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

Seasonal and spatial trends, and relationships between hydroclimatologic variables were analyzed to identify opportunities for regional implementation of water management strategies under climate change in the Atlantic Coast of the United States (ACUS). For this, projected climate-induced changes (RCP 8.5) in seasonal streamflow and water temperature in ACUS watersheds by the middle and end of the century were assessed. Changes in hydroclimatologic variables suggested spatial trends clearly differentiated by seasons. Northern and central watersheds are projected to experience the most dramatic seasonal streamflow and water temperature changes in winter and summer, while southern watersheds presented the largest increase of streamflow in fall, and water temperature changes greater than 3°C for all seasons. These similarities and contrasts between ACUS watersheds’ hydrologic responses provide an opportunity for regional management of climate induced impacts on water resources.

3 - 4 p.m.: Panel: The Mighty Mississippi: Climate Change in America’s Largest Watershed

A discussion around water and climate change in the Mississippi River Basin.


  • Colin Wellenkamp, J.D., LLM, Executive Director, Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative
  • Kim Lutz, Executive Director, America’s Watershed Initiative
  • Maisah Khan, Policy Director, Mississippi River Network

Moderator: Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., Director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

4 - 5 p.m.: Virtual Happy Hour Reception featuring the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station

Enjoy a virtual tour of the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, and meet special guests Quienton Townsend, Education Manager, and Andrea Yochum, Educator, with the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation. Following the brief virtual tour, the Airmeet networking lounge will be open so you can meet and mingle with our guests from the Aquarium as well as the other conference attendees and WATER Institute faculty and staff. Aquarium-themed mocktails or cocktails are encouraged, and recipes will be shared with registered guests so you can fix your aquatic-themed beverage from the comfort of your home!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

9 - 9:15 a.m.: Welcome and Opening Remarks

WATER Institute Associate Director, Liz Hasenmueller, Ph.D., will open the day with announcements and introductory remarks.

9:15 - 10:30 a.m.: Keynote Lecture: Professor Emeritus Raphael Semiat, D.Sc.

Professor Em. Raphael Semiat, D.Sc.
President of the Israel Desalination Society
The Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering, Technion IIT, Haifa, Israel

The global population has grown significantly over the past years. Quality of life is generally increased along with the higher need for energy and water, alongside the proliferation of environmental issues to be resolved. High-quality drinking water is essential for day-to-day living, for food production, for better living standards, for the somehow neglected nature and the industry. The need for water is increasing rapidly and freshwater resources cannot deal with all the requirements. Water is not accessible to all as a natural, self-renewable low-cost resource. The drought in various regions on earth followed by desertification and the gravitation of populations towards this essence of life is calling for different considerations in terms of economic and social effects.

Solutions for clean water supply in remote locations are urgently required. Water is needed in locations where agriculture is the basis for life. The development of low-cost water sources could be the basis for increased industry toward a thirsty world. It is a global question of the same type of the usage of diminishing natural energy resources and solutions for environmental problems. The future of humankind depends on proper answers related to these questions, together with the questions of global peace and human wealth on earth. Sharing water expertise and industry best practices between counties worldwide would help fight water security challenges. It is not enough, however, to produce low-cost water. It is also important to educate people towards proper usage of water that will improve their way of life.

This presentation summarizes the experience gained in Israel including main techniques for utilizing alternative water sources like brackish water, seawater, and domestic wastewater. Explanations regarding the physics and chemistry of the different processes are given. Membrane-based technologies are discussed with emphasis given to their energy consumption and cost as well as potential and actual environmental impacts. 

10:30 - 11 a.m.:  Virtual Networking Coffee Break

Grab a cup of coffee and mingle in the virtual networking lounge! 

Sponsored by Shimadzu Scientific Instruments. 

11 - 11:30 a.m.: Freshwater Salinization in Critical Zones

Liz Hasenmueller, Ph.D.
Associate Director, WATER Institute
Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
Saint Louis University

Increasing salinity in freshwaters (freshwater salinization) is well documented in surface waterbodies, particularly in urban and high latitude environments where road salt application and other human-related activities increase major ion content in natural water. However, the mechanisms, pathways, and timescales of salinization across multiple hydrologic reservoirs (surface water, soil water, and groundwater) in the critical zone (the thin, life-supporting layer of Earth’s surface from the tops of the trees to the bottom of the groundwater) are understudied. Karst systems, which feature sinkholes, caves, and springs, may be more vulnerable to freshwater salinization than other landscapes because of highly permeable and deep critical zones. We therefore interpret 25 years of chemical data for soil, soil porewater, and groundwater and use laboratory soil experiments to understand processes that enhance salinity in these critical zones. Road salt contaminants (Na+ and Cl-) can move through soil in two ways. Soil porewater movement can slow ion transport to < 1.5 cm/day and is the main conveyance mechanism for Cl-. Soil cation exchange further slows Na+ movement by 3-5 months, a process accompanied by base cation and trace element release to porewater. Deicer-related ion concentrations in soil are highest within 25 cm of the road, and ion pulses decrease with distance. Delivery of road salt pollution to the aquifer occurs on two timescales. Ions move rapidly into the karst during the winter through sinkholes and other conduits. Over seasonal and decadal timescales, Na+ and Cl- accumulate in the aquifer as water moves slowly through diffuse pathways and when Na+ is retained and subsequently released via cation exchange. Our findings show that freshwater salinization in critical zones occurs both rapidly and over long timescales as contaminants like road salt move at different rates through the system and interact with the substrate along the flow path.

Research Collaborators: Elizabeth A. Hasenmueller, Heather K. Levin*, Teresa Baraza, Ashleigh R. Montgomery†

WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University
*Current affiliation: Office of Geomatics, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
†Current affiliation: Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, University of Tennessee 

11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.: Machine Learning Analysis for Reservoir Sedimentation Analysis

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E.
Director, WATER Institute
Associate Professor, Civil Engineering
Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
Saint Louis University

Presented with Deanna Meyer
Graduate Research Assistant
WATER Institute
Saint Louis University

Reservoirs are vital components of our nation’s water-resources infrastructure; however, many reservoirs across the nation are slowly being filled with sediment, which reduces their effectiveness, increases maintenance costs, and compromises dam safety. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has developed the Reservoir Sedimentation Information (RSI) database to help evaluate reservoir aggradation trends, life expectancy, and vulnerabilities to climate change. The focus of this study is to develop methods to estimate reservoir sedimentation rates using the RSI data and various supplemental resources.  A composite dataset was developed with RSI capacity data from 797 surveys (from 184 total reservoirs) and 29 other geospatial and climate parameters. Ten models for predicting capacity loss were developed from the composite dataset. These models consisted of a multilinear power regression equation (ordinary least squares method), four supervised machine learning algorithms, four deep neural network (machine learning) algorithms, and an artificial intelligence algorithm (AI).  This presentation will highlight methods used to derive supplemental geospatial parameters, methods used to develop prediction models, and results from capacity loss prediction models. 

1 - 1:30 p.m.:  Threats and Control of Harmful Algal Blooms and Related Toxins in the Nation’s Water Supply

Craig Adams, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE
Primary Investigator, WATER Institute
Oliver L. Parks Endowed Chair and Professor, Civil Engineering
Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
Saint Louis University

Harmful algal blooms (HAB) are a significant problem in drinking water sources globally and in the U.S. due to the toxic cyanotoxins they release. The most common freshwater cyanotoxins include microcystins, cylindrospermopsin, anatoxin-a and saxitoxins. Treatment options for cyanotoxins by water utilities include both chemical oxidation and powdered activated carbon. Unfortunately, the use of chemical oxidants is highly complex and depends widely on the type of oxidant (e.g., chlorine, monochloramine, ozone, permanganate, or chlorine dioxide), on the type of cyanotoxins and their variants present in the water source, and varies with water quality parameters at the source and through the treatment process (e.g. pH and temperature). In the United States, with no standard treatment regulations yet in place, water utilities are left to set their own standard operating procedures and modify their treatment approach to address cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins removal. In 2016, the freely downloadable Hazen-Adams CyanoTOX Tool was developed to assist water utilities in planning and real-time control of cyanotoxin events in water sources. This presentation will address these topics as well as the on-going research at SLU to support the next version of CyanoTOX.

Research Collaborators & Co-Authors: Craig Adams (speaker), Samar Maalouf (SLU), and Ben Stanford (Hazen and Sawyer) 

1:30 - 2 p.m.: The Ecological Effect of Thiamine on the Primary Producers in Aquatic Environments

Binbin Wang, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Department of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences
WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

Nutrient is a key factor for the growth of primary producers in the aquatic ecosystems. Many studies have been focusing on nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, while little attention has been paid to the organic micronutrients like vitamins, which are also essential factors for the growth of organisms. This presentation discusses the ecological effect of vitamin B1 (thiamine), one of vital growth factors for all living cells, on the primary producers in the aquatic ecosystems.

2:15 - 3:15 p.m.: Panel: From Research to Impact: Academia and Our Changing Climate

A conversation regarding the role of research and academia in water and sustainability in the face of climate change.


  • David Borrok, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences, Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering and Computing, Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Zhen (Jason) He, Ph.D., IWA Professor and Director of Center for Water Innovation, Washington University in St. Louis; Editor in Chief, Water Environment Research
  • Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., Director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

Moderator: Liz Hasenmueller, Ph.D., Associate Director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

3:30 - 4 p.m.: The Value of Water in Religion and Catholic Social Teaching 

Tobias Winright, M.Div., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Health Care Ethics and Theological Studies, Saint Louis University
Associated Investigator, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Associate Member, Las Casas Institute for Social Justice, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University

Water has value in the world's religions, including in Catholicism. This presentation provides an overview of religious perspectives on water, historically and today, and including indigenous religions, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, among others. Attention is also given in particular to water and Catholic social teaching.

4- 4:30 p.m.: Teaching About Water in a Virtual Middle School Context

Dannielle Joy Davis, Ph.D.
Professor, Higher Education Administration, School of Education
Associated Investigator, WATER Institute
Saint Louis University
Founder, Circle of Excellence Network

Co-Presented with Students:
Saphyr, Tosh, Janea, Elijah, Kobi, Aniyah, Samir, Brooklyn, Bryce, Isaiah and Zion 

The Circle of Excellence Network has honed the art of meshing STEM competition with family and community engagement. The founder will share her journey and experiences inspiring youth to study STEM via varied water related projects.

4:30 - 5 p.m.: Closing and Networking Lounge Open

The WATER Institute team will close the conference with final announcements and concluding remarks. The virtual networking lounge will remain open for an additional 30 minutes for any attendees who wish to connect with each other.


2022 Sponsor

Waterdrop Defender:

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